Photo credits: Geffen Records
David Geffen, an entertainment industry mogul, founded Geffen Records in 1980.
He founded Asylum Records in the early 1970s. In 1975, Geffen left Asylum and went to work for Warner Bros. Pictures as a vice president. In 1978, he was terminated from Warner Bros. Geffen, on the other hand, was still bound by a five-year contract that prevented him from being employed by another entity.
When that contract expired in 1980, he went back to work and formed Geffen Records with Warner Records, the sibling business of Warner Bros. Pictures. The label’s foundation was funded entirely by Warner Bros. Records – the label also distributed the firm’s releases in North America. Global distribution for Geffen’s record label on other continents was overseen by Epic Records.
Donna Summer, an established crossover soloist who was successful in the previous decade, was the first artist to sign the dotted line at Geffen Records, as per the Music History Calendar. Summer’s historic signing at the future music conglomerate occurred on June 19, 1980.
Her eighth studio album (titled The Wanderer) was released on October 20, 1980. Summer’s signing to Geffen highlighted a turning point during her storied career. Casablanca Records, her previous label home, was not keeping up with the times. Disco music was fading. Summer’s desire to explore a different, more current strand of creativity was stifled by the label. She also was experiencing clinical depression during this time.
A transition for the better eventually came. The disco queen’s full-length debut on Geffen Records sold over 500,000 records and received the RIAA’s gold certification. The title track (The Wanderer’s first single) shot to the number 3 spot on Billboard’s pop music chart for singles. This album show Summer’s transition from disco to classic rock.
A favorable review published in Rolling Stone Magazine called The Wanderer “Summer’s finest LP.”